July 14th, 2007
11:50 AM ET
7 years ago

Clinton, Edwards caught on open mic

Listen to Clinton and Edwards get caught with open mics.

WASHINGTON (CNN) –Next time, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, will think twice about holding a private conversation when live microphones are present.

The two Democratic presidential hopefuls had an unscripted moment Thursday at the conclusion of the NAACP candidate forum where they were overheard talking about how to thin out the number of candidates participating in these presidential events.

At the conclusion of the forum, Edwards approached Clinton on stage to talk, and the two expressed frustration over the number of candidates in the debate forum and the time allotted for answers.

The open microphone caught the following exchange:

Clinton: "We've got to talk, because they are just being trivialized."

Edwards: "They are not serious."

Clinton: "No."

Clinton: “I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that. That got somehow detoured. We got to get back to it, because that's all we're going to do."

Clinton: "Our guys should talk."

While Clinton and Edwards did not specifically mention any candidate by name, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, posted a scathing statement on his website condemning his two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Candidates, no matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not,” Kucinich said. “Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President.”

Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Edwards’ presidential campaign, said the former North Carolina senator was not suggesting excluding candidates, but instead is proposing to “break up the field into smaller groups for real debates.”

“You cannot explain how you will end the War in Iraq or solve the climate crisis in 60 seconds,” Schultz added.

Meanwhile, a Clinton spokesman declined to elaborate on the comments, saying, "It was private conversation and forums like yesterdays are important.”

In an interesting twist, Kucinich has been criticized for not appearing at political debates for his congressional seat. Andy Juniewicz, spokesman Kucinich's presidential campaign, said the congressman has never sought to exclude another candidate from appearing at a debate or forum.

"The only issue is whether the congressmen appeared at a specific debate in the City of Cleveland at an organization called the City Club,” Juniewicz said in an interview Friday. “The City Club is not even in his congressional district. Second, over the years, the last congressional campaign or the campaign before that or the campaign before that he made numerous appearances at community organizations, various forums, street clubs, block clubs and a variety of other venues. What we are talking about in context of what happened yesterday is what has been described as subterfuge, conspiracy and collusion to exclude other candidates. The congressman has never ever attempted to exclude another candidate to present his or her issues to the public. There is absolutely no parallel."

"The DNC has sanctioned six additional debates," Juniewicz said. "If Senator Clinton or former Senator Edwards chooses not to participate in those debates because Dennis Kucinich is participating then that is their choice."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John Edwards
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Glenn,B'ham,Al

    Vintage Clinton!! I deserve to govern because I'm better & smarter than the others!

    July 13, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. MG Seattle, WA

    “You cannot explain how you will end the War in Iraq or solve the climate crisis in 60 seconds,” Schultz added.

    I beg to differ. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says more in 60 seconds than any other candidate can say in 5 minutes.

    Ron Paul 2008!

    July 13, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. Chris in Throfare, NJ

    There needs to be a movement in this country for equal representation for Presidential candidates from the media.

    The things the media is doing to the "second tier" candidates is damaging the electoral process and needs to be stopped.

    How much attention has been given to Ron Paul, who raised 2.4 million dollars from 100% private donations? None, the media has been trying feverishly to make him disappear.

    As it stands they are depriving you of your choice to vote. Who makes "tiers" of candidates? How can that be fair and democratic?

    July 13, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. Steve , Houston, TX

    Influence is what drives these debates and those candidates vying for a nomination. The Dem. political machine as much as the Rep. political machine will always try to put the candidate with the most pull-charisma,contacts, and resources-in position over a well intentioned and intelligent underdog. Long ago has democratic elections become skewed sadly. As much as it's a great idea, it's become convoluted with the driving force of the two big political machines in the U.S.

    July 13, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. Mysticdog

    Wow, there are a lot of ways that could be interpreted. It would figure that the MSM would not take that as "The media running this debate are not serious about these candidates, they are trivializing them, and they (the media) are wasting everyones time"

    At least, thats how I read that exchange.

    The MSM is going to do everything in their power to make themselves look important by tearing these people down, in spite of the fact the MSM gave up actually doing anything important a long time ago. Stop falling for it.

    July 13, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. Andrew, Houston, Texas

    We're all jumping to conclusions based on something we overheard out of context? Are we back in 4th grade? I would rather not vote for anyone who leaps to conclusions on so little information. I've lived in Texas for over 20 years and Ron Paul seems like a nice guy but 60 seconds is too short to provide a substantial and informative response. That's just common sense. It makes sense to gather as much information and research on our own to make informed, thoughtful decisions rather than fly off the handle on conversations we overhear partially.

    July 13, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  7. Insider(Washington, DC)

    Kucinich is a joke.

    July 13, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  8. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    This is a tough one. I agree with the notion that the media tends to create celebrity politicians and doesn't give better attention to underdogs; however, how many underdogs can we allow into a debate before the pool becomes diluted and we are reduced to sound bites? Actually, we're already at sound bites.

    July 13, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. DJ, Los Angeles

    Ha ha ha! Wow this is priceless.

    How could they not know there are live mics on stage? lol

    To be fair though...seriously, how many candidates have given REAL answers during the debates besides the usual cliche answers, no matter how much time is devoted?

    So far Mike Gravel who can't even raise enough money to qualify and Ron Paul have made second tier candiates look like champs in comparison to the front-runners.

    July 13, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  10. Neil Barrett, Summerfield Florida

    I agree with the gentleman that made the comment from Washington. Ron Paul for President! He is a real american that will make real changes and is not connected with the Masons, Trilateral Commision and the others that are trying to destory our country and bring it into the New World Order.

    July 13, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  11. Jonathan, New York, NY

    Hillary's very serious about what her team has determined the public wants to hear. Edwards is a joke.

    Biden has much more serious things to say than these spoiled block-heads.

    July 13, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. CC, Fishers IN

    Does that mean if Kucinich is nominated, he'll debate the Libertarian, Green, and Reform Party candidates? Somehow I doubt that very much.

    July 13, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Dan, Boone NC

    This isn't news. End of story.

    July 13, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  14. Corinithia , Portland OR

    So when Bush has an open mic it is a swear word, or other Republicans it is racial slurs.

    But the leading Democrates, its campaign stragedy – how to get better policy conversations, because the number of canidates is trivalizing the debates. - so why the outrage? Personally I feel better already, even if I prefer one of the canidates not at the top of the pack

    July 13, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  15. TJ, Madison, WI


    July 13, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I think the democratic party is probably the worst thing for America at this stage (a very close race, though, with the republicans), but that said, their so-called front runners are clearly the worst. Richardson, Biden et al. are a lot more interesting than these hand-picked politicos. God save us all from Clinton, Edwards, and Obama.

    July 13, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. john riggs eagle pass texas

    The elitist cannot handle fair competition. This is apparent after 6 years of an unelected criminal dictator named dubya. I fear we shall see many more shenanigans before this is over. It is the ones we dont see that worry me. A return to paper ballots is the only hope to gain some resemblance of democracy in the U.S.

    July 13, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. D.A. Proctor

    THIS IS WHY NO ONE SHOULD VOTE FOR EITHER OF THESE FOOLS! They're no better than Bush and his cronies in trying to shape how they choose to engage with the general population! I can't stand politicians who chafe at having to really compete to gain the positions they desire. If they feel minimized by having to debate people who have less of a chance than they, who therefore can be more challenging in their statements than other "safe" candidates feel confident in expressing, then it is time for them to quit playing it safe and SPEAK THE TRUTH OF THEIR HEARTS!

    July 13, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  19. Jessica, Phoenix AZ

    I don't normally comment on things like this, but I have a question. What went on in the conversation before the portion that we are currently hearing?

    In the article accompanying the transcript, the author states the following: "The two Democratic presidential hopefuls had an unscripted moment Thursday at the conclusion of the NAACP candidate forum where they were overheard talking about how to thin out the number of candidates participating in these presidential events."

    How does the author know this? There is no mention in the recorded conversation that they are speaking about, "...how to thin out the number of candidate participating..." Is there more to the conversation than what we're being given? I haven’t watched the full coverage of the debates where this has taken place. Has anyone else?

    As far as I can tell, these sentences are completely open to interpretation. To jump on either candidate with accusations of corruption or versions there of is a little premature without context. But, that’s just my opinion. Thanks for listening.

    July 13, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. Beth VaBch VA

    Hillary has many sides, my friends. Those who take her on face value get hurt. Beware the Dog.

    July 13, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. HAWK,TX.


    July 13, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. William Brennan, New York, NY

    The problem is that these two candidates are carping for preference in attention, and not on ideas. Some of these "lower-tier" candidates have much more to say than these "top-tier" candidates.

    How can either of these candidates claim to be more serious than Joe Biden who is the only candidate who has provided a coherent plan on the Iraq War?

    What makes John Edwards think he's a more serious candidate than Bill Richardson who in some polls is showing stronger(not that the polls matter) and who has much more experience with foreign relations? I'm sure Edwards would love to divide the debates into smaller groups, but I'm afraid he should be included in one of those "smaller groups".

    I think this is big news especially with Hillary's ridiculous "candid" reality-T.V. program hoax.

    Do you really want someone as president who wants to have a stranglehold on political debate?

    July 13, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  23. Richard, Austin, Texas

    I'm surprised at Clinton on this. After all she did deny carrying on an overheard conversation in a senate elevator saying "we (as in- Clinton and her gang frustrated by talk radio) need to silence these talk radio host". If she denied that and said that she was not suggesting silencing her completion when the mike was left on, Well....... her denials are good enough for me, how about you? But then, I was born yesterday.

    July 13, 2007 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. SM, Albuquerque, NM

    They want to have a stranglehold on what we are permitted to hear.

    July 13, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. Bill T., New York, NY

    If Edwards wants to divide the Democratic debates into smaller groups, I'm afraid he's going to have to participate in one of those "smaller" groups.

    What makes his think he's on the "top-tier"?

    July 13, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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